Chapter 5 - Emergency Prep


5.0 Emergency Preparation (Top)

Ithaca Campus:

CALL 911 from any campus phone or dial 607-255-1111 from any cell phone, or off campus phone to reach Cornell University Police.
Consult the Emergency Action Guide for more information.


Outlying Facilities:

CALL 911 or follow your facility emergency response procedure.
Consult the Emergency Action Guide for more information.


Emergencies can occur at any time, without warning. Careful planning, with an emphasis on safety, can help members of the Cornell community handle crises and emergencies with appropriate responses, and could save lives. Every member of the Cornell community shares responsibility for emergency preparedness. Unit heads are responsible for ensuring that their units have emergency plans in place, and that all persons – including faculty, staff and students – are familiar with those emergency plans. Unit heads are also responsible for assigning emergency preparedness and response duties to appropriate staff members. 

5.1 Cornell Emergency Plan (Top)

Cornell University organizes, coordinates, and directs available resources toward an effective response to, and recovery from emergencies under the Cornell Emergency Program. The effectiveness of this effort is dependent on the development of a comprehensive central plan and individual college/unit plans. The university, therefore, expects colleges, divisions and individual departments to develop detailed emergency plans. This policy includes a chain of command establishing the authority and responsibilities of campus officials and staff members, and requires that colleges, divisions, and individual departments designate emergency coordinators with the authority to make modifications in emergency procedures and to commit resources for emergency preparedness and recovery, as necessary. 

5.1.1 Unit Emergency Planning (Top)

The Emergency Planning and Recovery system provides tools and guidance to colleges, divisions, and individual departments in developing detailed unit emergency plans. Policy 8.3 – Emergency Planning requires that every college and major administrative unit have designated emergency coordinators. The emergency coordinator should be a full-time member of the administrative team, and preferably an experienced employee who is thoroughly familiar with College/ Administrative Unit and University procedures. Knowledge of programs and physical facilities in their College/ Administrative Unit is also imperative. This person will coordinate their College's/Administrative Unit emergency plan as well as oversee that the College's/Administrative Unit each prepares a unit emergency plan. Each College/ Administrative Unit leader (e.g. Dean or Vice President) is responsible for designating an Emergency Coordinator. This person is responsible for gathering and communicating emergency information, coordinating and assisting in evacuations, maintaining emergency response forms and other emergency plan materials.

The Emergency Coordinator must be familiar with the programs and physical facilities, and should be a person with the management experience and authority to: 

  • Collaborate with departments to develop and maintain the information in the Unit Emergency Plan.
  • Recruit a core "Emergency Preparedness Committee" that represents staff, faculty, and principal investigators from the unit's major sub-divisions or locations.
  • Arrange related staff safety education and training.
  • Coordinate resources for emergency preparedness and recovery.
  • Purchase emergency supplies and equipment.
  • Be ready to support managers during an emergency incident (and be called back to Cornell if necessary).
  • Be ready to help prepare post-emergency impact summaries and insurance claims.

5.1.2 Fire Safety Plans (Top)

Fire safety planning is very important to the Cornell University community.  The University has developed campus-wide procedures to follow in the event of an emergency that must be posted in elevator lobbies, stairwells, and assembly spaces.  More information about fire safety plans can be found on the EHS Fire Safety web page.

5.2 Emergency Evacuation Procedures (Top)

Information about Emergency Evacuation Procedures can be found in the Fire Safety Plan document.

Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities

See the Disability Escape Route Planning to prepare for Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities.

5.3 Emergency Procedures (Top)

Emergencies can include both fire and non-fire emergencies. Fires are an "expected" emergency in all lab situations and almost all lab staff are trained on emergency steps in the event of a fire. “Non-fire” emergencies can include: 

  • Loss of electricity, heat, AC, water or other essential utilities. 
  • Failure of mechanical equipment such as HVAC systems and emergency generators. 
  • Flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters. 
  • Nearby chemical releases of hazardous materials to the environment (from the lab down the hall or a ruptured tank car one-half mile away). 
  • Terrorist actions or civil unrest.


5.3.1 Laboratory Emergency Shutdown Procedures (Top)

Each laboratory facility should develop a non-fire emergency plan or incorporate non-fire emergencies into a master emergency response plan. Employees must be trained on the contents of the plan and how to respond in a non-fire emergency. Cornell EHS has devised a set of simple steps for the shutdown of labs in non-fire emergency situations. These and other steps, based on the requirements of the facility, should be included in the emergency response plan of each unit or facility. This list is by no means complete, but it gives laboratory personnel simple steps to ensure a safe lab shutdown. 

  • Close fume hood sashes. 
  • Be certain that the caps are on all bottles of chemicals. 
  • Turn off all non-essential electrical devices. Leave refrigerators and freezers on and make sure the doors are closed. Check the disconnects of large LASERs, radio frequency generators, etc. It may be necessary to check to ensure that essential equipment is plugged in to the power receptacles supplied by the emergency generator (usually orange or red). 
  • Turn off all gas cylinders at the tank valves. Note: If a low flow of an inert gas is being used to "blanket" a reactive compound or mixture, then the lab worker may want to leave the flow of gas on. This should be part of a pre-approved, written, posted standard operating procedure for this material or process. 
  • Check all cryogenic vacuum traps (Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, and solvent). The evaporation of trapped materials may cause dangerous conditions. Check all containers of cryogenic liquids to ensure that they are vented to prevent the buildup of internal pressure. 
  • Check all pressure, temperature, air, or moisture sensitive materials and equipment. This includes vacuum work, distillations, glove boxes used for airless/moistureless reactions, and all reactions in progress. Terminate all reactions that are in progress, based on the known scope of the emergency. 
  • If experimental animals are in use, special precautions may need to be taken to secure those areas such as emergency power, alternative ventilation, etc. 
  • All non-essential staff/students must leave the building. Depending on the nature of the emergency, some staff may need to stay behind to facilitate the start-up of essential equipment once the lab is reopened. 
  • It is important to remember that some equipment does not shut down automatically – such as large cryogenic magnets, sources of radioactivity, and other pieces of equipment. Be sure to check any special operating procedures for your equipment before an emergency occurs.


5.3.2 Medical Emergency Procedures (Top)

Call 911 (or 607-255-1111 from a cell phone in Ithaca Campus) in any emergency that requires immediate police, fire or medical response to preserve a life. 

  • Protect the victim from further injury or harm by removing any persistent threat to the victim or by removing the victim to a safe place if needed, however do not move the victim unnecessarily. Do not delay in obtaining trained medical assistance if it is safe to do so. 
  • Notify Cornell Police of the location, nature and extent of the injury by calling 911 or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone in Ithaca Campus. Always call from a safe location. 
  • Provide first aid until help arrives if you have appropriate training and equipment, and it is safe to do so. 
  • Send someone outside to escort emergency responders to the appropriate location, if possible.

5.3.3 First Aid Kits (Top)

Individual departments and units are not required to maintain first aid kits in work spaces within the campus buildings. As indicated in OSHA (29 CFR 1910.151) and cited in the ANSI standard (ANSI Z308.1-2003) if medical attention can be reached within a reasonable time, or distance, to rely on the professionals and make that part of an emergency plan. Cornell’s EHS department has fully trained emergency responders on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Ithaca Campus. Injured personnel are encouraged to take advantage of this service by calling 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a cell phone.

For specific hazards, such as Phenol or Hydroflouric Acid, there are specifice items that should be readily available in the lab with persons trained for immediate application to the affected site.

Outlying facilities, follow your facility Emergency Plan.

If you choose to have a first aid kit in your work space, then there are some additional requirements to address.  The first aid content list should be viewed mainly as a starting point for an organization’s first aid kit, as many workplaces have job-specific risks that should be addressed on a case-by-case basis with the addition of products necessary to meet those unique needs.  There needs to be a responsible person in your work space that is trained - with their contact information posted on the kit. The kit should be maintained and complete at all times. An Injury/Illness Exposure Reporting should be completed when a first aid kit is used due to an injury/illness in a Cornell University laboratory.

The appropriate Training is provided live by EHS.  Course # EHS 5360 – AHA Heartsaver First Aid.
The ANSI Standard lists the following minimum fill requirements for a first aid kit: 
  • 1 - Absorbent compress, 4 x 8 in. minimum 
  • 5 yard Adhesive Tape 
  • 10 - Antiseptic applications, 0.14 fl.oz. each 
  • 1 - Triangular bandage, 40 x 40 x 56 in. minimum 
  • 16 - Adhesive Bandages, 1 x 3 inch 
  • 2 - Pair medical exam gloves 
  • 4 - Sterile pads, 3 x 3 in. minimum 
  • 6 - Burn treatment applications, 1/32 oz. each


5.3.4 Fire or Explosion Emergency Procedures (Top)

All fires must be reported to Cornell Police, including those that have been extinguished. Do not hesitate to activate the fire alarm if you discover smoke or fire.  Outlying facilities, all fires including those that have been extinguished, must be reported to Cornell EHS (607-255-8200). Consult the Emergency Action Guide for outlying facility site specific procedures.

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the fire and evacuate the room. 
  • Confine the fire by closing doors as you leave the room. 
  • Initiate a full building evacuation by activating the closest fire alarm pull station as you are exiting the building. 
  • Notify Cornell Police of the location and size of the fire by calling 911 from a campus phone, or 607-255-1111 from a cell phone or off campus phone, or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone. Always call from a safe location. 
  • Evacuate the building using the Emergency Evacuation Procedure. Do not use elevators to evacuate unless directed to do so by emergency responders. 
  • Notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the fire once you are outside.
If you have been trained and it is safe to do so, you may attempt to extinguish the fire with a portable fire extinguisher. Attempt to extinguish only small fires and make sure you have a clear escape path. If you have not been trained to use a fire extinguisher you must evacuate the area.

If clothing is on fire: 

  • Stop - Drop to the ground or floor and Roll to smother flames. 
  • Drench with water from a safety shower or other source. 
  • Seek medical attention for all burns and injuries.

5.3.5 Fire Extinguishers (Top

  • All fire extinguishers are inspected monthly and maintained by Facilities and Campus Services in main campus and some outlying facilities.  Other outlying facilities, a local contractor is provided.
  • Laboratory personnel should perform regular visual checks (minimum on a monthly basis) to ensure fire extinguishers present in their labs are fully charged. For those fire extinguishers with a readout dial, labs only need to ensure the indicator arrow on the readout dial is within the green zone. If the indicator arrow is on either side of the green zone, which indicates a problem, then call EHS at 607-255-8200 to have the fire extinguisher replaced.
  • Any fire extinguisher that has been used at all, even if it wasn’t fully discharged, needs to be reported to EHS so a replacement fire extinguisher can be provided in its place.
  • The University Fire Marshal's Office conducts onsite Fire Extinguisher Training (course #5300) and can be scheduled through CU Learn.

5.3.6 Power Outage Procedures (Top

  • Assess the extent of the outage in the unit's area. 
  • At outlying facilities, refer to your facility Emergency Action Guide.
  • Report the outage to Cornell Customer Service Center at 607-255-5322. 
  • Assist other building occupants to move to safe locations. Loss of power to fume hoods may require the evacuation of laboratories and surrounding areas. 
  • Implement the unit's power outage plan. Evaluate the unit's work areas for hazards created by a power outage. Secure hazardous materials. Take actions to preserve human and animal safety and health. Take actions to preserve research. 
  • Turn off and/or unplug non-essential electrical equipment, computer equipment and appliances. Keep refrigerators and freezers closed throughout the outage to help keep contents cold. 
  • If needed, open windows (in mild weather) for additional light and ventilation (this is not always advisable in BSL2 labs).

5.4 Chemical Spill Procedures (Top)

When a chemical spill occurs, it is necessary to take prompt and appropriate action. The type of response to a spill will depend on the quantity of the chemical spilled and the severity of the hazards associated with the chemical. The first action to take is to alert others in your lab or work area that a spill has occurred. Then you must determine if you can safely clean up the spill yourself.

At outlying facilities, refer to your facility chemical spill response procedure.

Many chemical spills can be safely cleaned up by laboratory staff without the help of EHS. Only attempt to clean up incidental spills if you are trained and have the proper spill cleanup materials available. Note: The following advice is intended for spills that occur within a University building. A release to the outside environment may require the University file a report with the EPA. Calling Cornell Police will initiate this determination by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS).


5.4.1 Incidental Spills (Top)

A spill is considered incidental if the criteria below are met:


  • The spill is a small quantity of a known chemical. 
  • No gases or vapors are present that require respiratory protection.
  • You have the materials and equipment needed to clean up the spill. 
  • You have the necessary proper personal protective (PPE) equipment available.


  • You understand the hazards posed by the spilled chemical. 
  • You know how to clean up the spill. 
  • You feel comfortable cleaning up the spill. Incidental Spill Cleanup Procedures (Top) 

  1. Notify other people in the area that a spill has occurred. Prevent others from coming in contact with the spill (i.e. walking through the spilled chemical). The first priority is to always protect yourself and others. 
  2. Put on the Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, etc. before beginning cleanup. Do not unnecessarily expose yourself to the chemical. 
  3. Stop the source of the spill if possible, and if safe to do so. 
  4. Try to prevent spilled chemicals from entering waterways by building a dike around access points (sink, cup sinks, and floor drains inside and storm drains outside) with absorbent material if you can safely do so. 
  5. Use the appropriate absorbent material for liquid spills (detailed in the following section). 
  6. Slowly add absorbent material on and around the spill and allow the chemical to absorb. Apply enough absorbent to completely cover the spilled liquid. 
  7. Sweep up the absorbed spill from the outside towards the middle. 
  8. Scoop up and deposit in a leak-proof container. 
  9. For acid and base spills, transfer the absorbed materials to a sink, and complete the neutralization prior to drain disposal. 
  10. For absorbed hazardous chemicals, label the container and dispose of through the hazardous waste management program. 
  11. If possible, mark the area of the spill on the floor with chalk. 
  12. Wash the contaminated surface with soapy water. If the spilled chemical is highly toxic, collect the rinse water for proper disposal. 
  13. Report the spill to your supervisor. 
  14. Restock any spill clean up supplies that you may have used from any spill kits. 

5.4.2 Spill Absorbent Materials (Top)

Note: The following materials are EHS approved/recommended spill absorbent materials, however, they are not appropriate for every possible chemical spill – when in doubt, contact EHS at 255-8200 for advice.


For acid spills (except Hydrofluoric acid):

  • Sodium carbonate 
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) 
  • Calcium carbonate 
  • Calcium bicarbonate 
  • Do not use absorbent clay for acid spills

For Hydrofluoric acid (HF) spills:

  • Use Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate to tightly bind the fluoride ion.
For liquid base spills:
  • Use Sodium bicarbonate to lower the pH sufficiently for drain disposal.

For oil spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik), vermiculite, or absorbent clay (kitty litter).

For most acqueous solutions:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik)
For most organic liquid spills:
  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik). If the liquid is flammable, be sure to use an excess of SlikQwik.
For oxidizing liquids:
  • Use absorbent clay, vermiculite, or some other nonreactive absorbent material. Do not use SlikQwik or paper towels. Note: Most nitrate solutions are not sufficiently oxidizing for this requirement.
For mercury spills:
  • Do not dispose of mercury or mercury contaminated spill debris in the regular trash or down the drain.
  • There is no absorbent material available. Physical removal processes are best for removing and collecting mercury. 
  • If you need help collecting Mercury from a spill, contact EHS spill responders by calling 911. Note: While powdered sulfur will help reduce mercury vapors, the sulfur greatly complicates the spill cleanup.

5.4.3 Spill Kits (Top)

While commercially available spill kits are available from a number of safety supply vendors, laboratory personnel can assemble their own spill kits to properly clean up chemicals specific to their laboratory. Whether commercially purchased or made in-house, EHS strongly encourages all laboratories to obtain a spill kit for their use. Colleges and departments should give serious consideration to distributing basic spill kits to all laboratories within their units.

A useful spill kit can be assembled using a 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket containing the following absorbent materials. Stock only the absorbents appropriate for your space. Each container of absorbent must be labeled as to what it contains and what type of spills it can be used for.

Spill kit absorbent material: 
  • 1-5 lbs of ground corn cobs (SlikQwik) – for most aqueous and organic liquid spills. 
  • 1-5 lbs of absorbent clay (kitty litter) - for oils or oxidizing liquids. 
  • 1-5 lbs of Sodium bicarbonate - for liquid acid and base spills. 
  • 1-5 lbs of Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate - for HF spills.
Equipment in the spill kit could include:
  • Wisk broom and dust pan (available at home improvement stores) 
  • Sponge 
  • pH paper 
  • 1 gallon and 5 gallon bags - for collection of spill cleanup material 
  • Small and large Ziploc bags – for collection of spill cleanup material or to enclose leaking bottles/containers. 
  • Safety goggles 
  • Thick and thin Nitrile gloves 
  • Hazardous waste labels
The spill kit should be clearly labeled as “SPILL KIT”, with a list of the contents posted on or in the kit. This list should include information about restocking the kit after use and where to obtain restocking materials.

Laboratory personnel must also be properly trained on:
  • How to determine if they can or should clean up the spill, or if they should call 911 or EHS at 607-255-8200. 
  • Where the spill kit will be kept within the laboratory. 
  • What items are in the kit and where replacement items can be obtained. 
  • How to use the items in the kit properly. 
  • How to clean up the different types of chemical spills. 
  • How to dispose of spill cleanup material.
Environmental Health and Safety can provide assistance in assembling spill kits for laboratories and offers a training class on Cleaning Up Small Spills”. More information can be obtained by contacting Environmental Health and Safety at 607-255-8200.

5.4.4 Major Spills (Top)

A major spill is any chemical spill for which the researcher determines they need outside assistance to safely clean up a spill. EHS is activated to assist with spill cleanup whenever Cornell Police are notified of a spill by calling 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a cell phone or off campus phone. Major Spill Cleanup Procedures (Top)

When a spill occurs that you are not capable of handling: 

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill and evacuate the room. 
  • If an explosion hazard is present, do not unplug, or turn electrical equipment on or off – doing so can result in a spark and ignition source. 
  • Confine the hazard by closing doors as you leave the room. 
  • Use eyewash or safety showers as needed to rinse spilled chemicals off people or yourself. 
  • Evacuate any nearby rooms that may be affected. If the hazard will affect the entire building, then evacuate the entire building by pulling the fire alarm. 
  • Notify Cornell Police by calling 911 or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone. Always call from a safe location.


Be prepared to provide Cornell Police with the following information:

  • Where the spill occurred (building and room number).
  • If there are there any injuries and if medical attention is needed.
  • The identity of the spilled material(s) - be prepared to spell out the chemical names.
  • The approximate amount of material spilled.
  • How the spill occurred (if you know).
  • Any immediate actions you took.
  • Who first observed the spill and the approximate time it occurred.
  • Where you will meet emergency responders, or provide a call back number (if available).
  • Once outside, notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the spill. Isolate contaminated persons and protect yourself and others from chemical exposure.

5.5 Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

All laboratories using hazardous chemicals, particularly corrosive chemicals, must have access to an eyewash and/or an emergency shower as per the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151 – Medical Services and First Aid. The ANSI Standard Z358.1-2014 - Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment provides additional guidance by stating that emergency eyewash and/or emergency showers be readily accessible, free of obstructions and within 10 seconds from the hazard. The ANSI standard also outlines specific requirements related to flow requirements, use of tempered water, inspection and testing frequencies, and training of laboratory personnel in the proper use of this important piece of emergency equipment.

Due to the flow requirements outlined in the ANSI standard, hand held bottles do not qualify as approved eyewashes.

5.5.1 Testing and Inspection of Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

The ANSI Standard provides guidance by stating that plumbed emergency eyewash and safety showers should be activated weekly to verify proper operation and inspected annually. Regular activation (weekly flushing) ensures the units are operating properly, helps to keep the units free of clutter, and helps prevent the growth of bacteria within the plumbing lines, which can cause eye infections. It is recommended to allow the water to run for at least 3 minutes. EHS strongly encourages laboratories to post an “Eyewash Testing Sheet” near the eyewash to keep track and document that weekly activation is occurring.

Laboratories are responsible for activating eyewashes in their spaces and ensuring that access to eyewashes and emergency showers are kept free of clutter and ensuring the eyewash nozzle dust covers are kept in place. If nozzle dust covers are not kept on the eyewash nozzles, dust or other particles can clog the nozzles and effect water flow. This could result in dust or other particles being forced into the eyes when the eyewash is used.

Report any malfunctioning eyewashes and emergency showers to your Building Coordinator to have the unit repaired. If either the emergency shower or eyewash is not working properly, posta Do Not Use sign on the unit to alert others.

EHS performs free annual inspections of eyewashes and emergency showers. EHS will test units for compliance with ANSI Z358.1-2014 including: 

  • Test the water flow for proper quantity, spray pattern, and good water quality. 
  • Ensure the unit is the proper height from the floor. 
  • Ensure the unit is not obstructed. 
  • Ensure the unit has a tempering valve (if the unit does not have a tempering valve, this will be identified as a recommended repair in the inspection report). 
  • Ensure valves are working properly. 
  • Ensure signs are posted. 
  • Ensure the unit is free of corrosion.

Area Manangers or delegates may conduct this annual inspection. Completion of the CULearn module #2720 explaining how to conduct the inspection and reporting process. In addition to affirming completion of the module, SEW Area Tester Guidelines can be used as a reference.

5.5.2 Installation of New Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

As with installation of other safety equipment, all new eyewashes and emergency showers must be installed in consultation with Facilities Engineering, EHS, and the appropriate campus service shops. All new installations or eyewashes and emergency showers must comply with CU Design Standard 15430 – Safety Showers and Eyewashes. Before EHS will commission any new emergency shower or eyewash, the project manager or designated representative must complete an Emergency Shower and Eyewash Commissioning Form and submit it to the program manager.

5.5.3 Maintenance Procedures For Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

The following documents provide information and maintenance procedures for working on emergency eyewashes and showers:


5.5.4 Using Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

Preplan your experiments and include emergency procedures. At minimum identify the locations of the nearest emergency shower and eyewash before working with hazardous chemicals.

In the event of an emergency (chemical spill or splash) where an eyewash or emergency shower is needed, follow these procedures:

  1. If you get a chemical in your eyes, yell for help if someone else is in the lab. 
  2. Immediately go to the nearest eyewash and push the activation handle all the way on. 
  3. Put your eyes or other exposed area in the stream of water and begin flushing. 
  4. Open your eyelids with you fingers and roll your eyeballs around to get maximum irrigation of the eyes. 
  5. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives. The importance of flushing the eyes first for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated! For accidents involving Hydrofluoric acid, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions
  6. If you are alone, call 911 after you have finished flushing your eyes for at least 15 minutes. 
  7. Seek medical attention. 
  8. Complete an Injury/Illness Exposure Report.
If someone else in the lab needs to use an eyewash, assist them to the eyewash, activate the eyewash for them, and help them get started flushing their eyes using the procedures above and then call 911. After calling 911, go back to assist the person using the eyewash and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

Emergency Showers:
  1. If you get chemical contamination on your skin resulting from an accident, yell for help if someone else is in the lab. 
  2. Immediately go to the nearest emergency shower and pull the activation handle. 
  3. Once under the stream of water, begin removing your clothing to wash off all chemicals.  In some instances, clothing may not be removed, (although it is best to remove contaminated clothing), it is more important to flush away chemical contamination.
  4. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives. The importance of flushing for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated! If you spill Hydrofluoric acid on yourself, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions
  5. If you are alone, call 911 after you have finished flushing for at least 15 minutes. 
  6. Seek medical attention. 
  7. Complete an Injury/Illness Exposure Reporting.
If someone else in the lab needs to use an emergency shower (and it is safe for you to do so), assist them to the emergency shower, activate the shower for them, and help them get started flushing using the procedures above and then call 911. After calling 911, go back to assist the person using the shower and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

NOTE: Although an emergency is no time for modesty, if a person is too modest and reluctant to use the emergency shower, you can assist them by using a lab coat or other piece of clothing or barrier to help ease their mind while they undress under the shower. If you are assisting someone else, you should wear gloves to avoid contaminating yourself. When using an emergency shower, do not be concerned about the damage from flooding. The important thing to remember is to keep flushing for 15 minutes.

5.6 Injury/Illness/Exposure Reporting (Top)

All accidents and injuries, no matter how minor, are required to be reported to University officials through the injury/illness/exposure reporting system. The employee, supervisor, department head or a designated individual within the department must complete all sections of this form as soon as possible and ideally within 24 hours after the injury/illness/exposure is first reported. The online Injury/Illness reporting system can be accessed through the EHS webpage – Cornell University Injury/Illness/Exposure Reporting.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator and laboratory supervisor to ensure all injuries are reported to University officials through the use of the Cornell University injury/illness reporting system.


5.7 Medical Consultations (Top)

When a chemical exposure occurs, medical consultations and medical examinations will be made available to laboratory workers who work with hazardous chemicals as required. All work related medical examinations and consultations will be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and will be provided at no cost to the employee without loss of pay, and at a reasonable time, through the Cornell Health. 

The opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow up examinations, will be provided to employees who work with hazardous chemicals under the following circumstances: 

  • Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed in the laboratory. 
  • Where airborne exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level (or in the absence of an action level, the Permissible Exposure Limit) for an OSHA regulated substance for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements. Action level means the airborne concentration of a specific chemical, identified by OSHA, and calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA). 
  • Whenever an event such as a spill, leak, explosion or other occurrence takes place and results in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure. Upon such an event, the affected employee shall be provided an opportunity for a medical consultation. The consultation shall be for the purpose of determining the need for a medical examination.

More information on action levels and Permissible Exposure Limits can be found on the OSHA Health and Safety topics page – Permissible Exposure Limits.


5.7.1 Information Provided to the Physician (Top)

The physician shall be provided with the following information: 

  • The identity of the hazardous chemical(s) to which the employee may have been exposed. Such information can be found in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the chemical(s).
  •  A description of the conditions under which the exposure occurred including quantitative exposure data, if available.
  • A description of the signs and symptoms of exposure that the employee is experiencing, if any.

5.7.2 The Physician’s Written Opinion (Top)

The physician’s written opinion for the consultation or examination shall include: 

  • The results of the medical examination and any associated tests. 
  • Any medical condition that may be revealed in the course of the examination, which may place the employee at increased risk as a result of exposure to a hazardous workplace. 
  • A statement that the employee has been informed by the physician of the results of the consultation or medical examination and any medical condition that may require further examination or treatment. 
  • The written opinion shall not reveal specific findings of diagnoses unrelated to the occupational exposure.
All records of medical consultations, examinations, tests, or written opinions shall be maintained at Cornell Health in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020 - Access to employee exposure and medical records. The Cornell Health  (607-255-5155) is located at 10 Central Avenue. Exposure monitoring records of contaminate levels in laboratories will be maintained at EHS office at 395 Pine Tree Road, Suite 210. For more information, contact EHS at 607-255-8200.


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​ ​Other Resources
OSHA Medical Services and First Aid Standard​ OSHA Access to employee exposure and medical records Standard
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits Topics Webpage Cornell University Injury/Illness Reporting
​​University Policy 8.3 – Emergency Planning Cornell University Emergency Plan webpage
EHS Safety Education Catalog​ ​​EHS Online Training Programs
​CU Design Standards - 15430 – Safety Showers and Eyewashes Emergency Shower and Eyewash Commissioning Request Form
Eyewash Testing Sheet​